Comedian Will Ferrell is a known sports enthusiast, who has oft been spotted on the sidelines of USC football games as well as courtside at LA Lakers games. But when it comes to tennis, Ferrell is getting serious for Match Maker.
Variety reports Ferrell has signed on to star in Match Maker, a docudrama about the pivotal 1973 showdown of tennis legends Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Ferrell will front the feature as Riggs. Beyond that, he and Adam McKay will produce through Gary Sanchez Productions, in co-ordination with Chernin Entertainment. It has not yet been announced who will co-star as King.
Based on Don Van Natta Jr.’s ESPN magazine article, "The Match Maker: Bobby Riggs, the Mafia and the Battle of the Sexes," Match Maker boasts a script from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty's screenwriter, Steve Conrad. Its story will follow the rivalry that evolved between the 55-year-old Riggs, who was retired tennis pro and a sexist blowhard, and the 29-year-old King, who dared to become a prize-winning tennis player while female. He was a pro from the 1940s who was hungry for attention. She was an icon not only for her victories on the court, but for her emergence in a male-dominated sport as second-wave feminism swept over America. Their paths collided in a widely covered match whose winner was promised a $100,000 prize.
Learn more about the Battle of the Sexes in the video below:
Of course, Ferrell has already made a slew of sports-centered movies, like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Kicking & Screaming, Blades of Glory, and Semi-Pro. In them, he's often played an egomaniacal sports anti-hero. So his casting of Riggs does on one level seem a no-brainer. After all, he's created a long line of blowhards, from his sleazy senator in The Campaign to his supervillain Megamind, and most famously his beloved Anchorman.
But what makes this project so interesting is that it's a drama, something Ferrell has dabbled in with movies like Winter Passing, Everything Must Go and Stranger Than Fiction. But none of which have been among his biggest hits. This is precisely what makes Ferrell's decision to play Riggs so intriguing. Aside from potentially bringing in his legions of fans to a sports drama they might otherwise have overlooked, he's setting himself up for a chance to stretch as an actor. Here's hoping he fares better than the real life Riggs did.